Who looks after National Parks?

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National Parks are vast spaces.

Farmland, towns, villages, nature reserves, rivers, lakes, valleys, beaches and mountains. Lots of people and organisations help to look after them. While National Parks are “protected landscapes”, they are also managed landscapes – and a network of custodians each play their part in making them special.

Peak District National Park Ranger repairing Dry Stone Walling
Peak District National Park Ranger repairing Dry Stone Walling

Did you Know?

Across the 15 National Parks, there is a resident population of almost half a million people (446,987)

Custodians of the land

Farmers, foresters, and local communities are integral to National Parks.

The land within the boundaries of National Parks is owned by a variety of people and organisations. Each plays a vital role in the conservation and enhancement of these treasured landscapes.

National Park Authorities

Each National Park is looked after by an organisation called a National Park Authority, which includes members, staff and volunteers.

Each National Park authority employs between 50 to 200 members of paid staff. The roles are incredibly varied, with a mix of those out in the field such as rangers and guides, and those working in offices on duties such as planning and administration.


National Park authorities have between 10 and 30 Board members and one chairman (called a Convenor in Scotland) who represents them. The members take advice from staff and make decisions about what the National Park authority should do. Members do not work for the National Park authority full time.

Most of the members come from local and parish councils in the National Park. Some members are appointed by government because they have specialist knowledge and experience in areas like the environment or rural communities.


Volunteers are the lifeblood of National Parks and so much is achieved because of their dedication and commitment.

People like to volunteer for National Parks because they get to be outside in beautiful countryside, mix with other people, keep fit and know that they are helping to look after these precious landscapes.

Our volunteers do lots of different jobs, such as leading guided walks, fixing fences, dry stone walling, planting trees, checking historic sites and surveying wildlife.


There are lots of organisations that work to protect natural and cultural heritage and many of them own land within National Parks.

The National Trust and the Forestry Commission own large areas of moorlands and woodlands. Other organisations like the RSPB, the Wildlife Trusts, the Woodland Trust, English Heritage and NatureScot own nature reserves and historic sites within National Parks.

National Parks UK

National Parks UK brings together the 15 National Park Authorities in the UK to raise the profile of the National Parks and to promote joint working.

Find out more

What is a National Park?
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What is a National Park?

Some of the basics about what makes a National Park special.

Our work in National Parks
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Our work in National Parks

More about our work in National Parks.

History of National Parks
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History of National Parks

The story of the creation of the UK's National Parks.


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